DF’s Massive Chalice Funded, Skipping Stretch Goals

By Nathan Grayson on June 5th, 2013 at 11:00 am.

It must take a pretty cool grandma to knit someone a scarf made of ghosts.

We live in a terrifyingly inconsistent, frequently unpredictable world. Whether it’s a walk in the park or the ending to a Game of Thrones season, nothing goes according to plan and usually lots of people die. But there is some solace to be found – a few unflinching bastions of stability in a swirling storm of madness. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I wasn’t particularly worried that Double Fine’s second Kickstarter would fail. Given the rather groundbreaking history that preceded it, Massive Chalice seemed destined for success. $725,000 (and counting) later, here we are. So then, what’s next? Why, a stretch goal mountain that only ski lifts made of money can scale, right? Wrong, surprisingly.

The short version? Massive Chalice is still in the “amorphous cloud of ideas” phase of game development, and Double Fine would rather leave the door open for more fundamental changes to its scope and systems. So instead of etching a roadmap of promises in Kickstarter’s crystalline hide, the developer’s letting everyone in on the ground floor.

“The exciting thing about taking the game to you guys at this early stage is that some of your ideas are even better than ours. As we go through pre-production into production, some of these ideas are going to trump ours, leading to a game that’s more in line with what our community wants. That’s amazing and we love having you involved in the process!”

Optimistic, certainly – but then, I’d be feeling optimistic too if I just materialized more than half a million dollars out of thin air. There is precedent, though. Double Fine tells me that user suggestions have led to some pretty huge changes throughout Broken Age’s development, and apparently Massive Chalice has already avoided a massive pitfall or two thanks to backers who said, “OK sure, but what about… ?”

I recently swung by Double Fine’s offices for a chat about Massive Chalice, Broken Age, ska music, and animal husbandry, and you’ll be seeing all of that soon. In the meantime, who’s hoping to fight alongside this one on the battlefield and then later bear its children to continue a never-ending cycle of bloodshed and sacrifice?

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41 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    basilisk says:

    First they make it massively popular, then they show others how to use it reasonably. It’s like Double Fine and Kickstarter were made for each other.

    • Caiman says:

      Yeah, this is much more in keeping with the concept of Kickstarter. I think some projects that are well-developed already and have clear stretch goals are also great, but it’s good that other projects really allow us to tap more closely into the development process nearer conception.

      • BooleanBob says:

        Sometimes stretch goals make sense, especially where economies of scale come into it – a bigger money pile improving the viability of bulk orders on glossier paper for book printings, for example, or better moulds for tabletop miniatures.

        Othertimes you get the impression that having their hands forced at the design stage might lead to getting tied into an idea that later proves not to be a good one for the project as a whole. In the case of game development, where one of the biggest strengths is that everything is non-physical and therefore mutable and open to improvement and iteration as feedback demands, this probably isn’t the best idea.

      • Teovald says:

        I have seen many projects with things like “one more level in the special dungeon for each 1000 facebook likes” or stretch goals that profoundly affect the game design. Honestly it is getting out of hands, good game design is generally not extensible at a whim..
        It is good to see that MC is not following this approach, it would have been especially ridiculous for a game that is still in pre-production.

    • belgand says:

      At the same time it might discourage people from contributing. When you have stretch goals it helps to direct people to the idea that more money will mean more people can afford to work on the game for longer. Something that often yields greater content or more polish.

      Once a game is funded it makes it quite easy to look at it and say “it’ll definitely exist so I’ll wait for the reviews”. The pre-order mentality is quite strong on Kickstarter these days and I can’t deny that I’ve failed to donate to many campaigns for games I would very much like to play and support, but remain skeptical of without more to show. Including in this case.

      A layout of how that extra money would help them might be a better option that keeps flexibility while also encouraging further donation. Saying that at a certain price they’ll be able to add more artists or level designers to the team or spend a few more months working on it (and what that would likely mean) could be very helpful.

  2. Frosty840 says:

    Hopes of a Dwarf Fortress Kickstarter dashed.

  3. Premium User Badge

    DrScuttles says:

    It’s nice to see a Kickstarter use all the extra money to just make a game better in a general way as opposed to splitting up extra components and slapping an arbitrary price tag on them (though I would assume Double Fine aren’t the first to pioneer this New Thinking of all the Monies, it’s just the first case I’ve heard of).
    But then my Kickstarter cynicism has grown to the point that I wouldn’t put money down on any game in the idea stage. Sure, I did for Broken Age, but in Kickstarter Years, that’s like a decade ago or something. Maybe. And people change plenty in a decade. Or sometimes they don’t. This is a rubbish analogy and I need more coffee.

    • qrter says:

      I’ve created a Kickstarter to get you a cup of coffee.

      • Premium User Badge

        DrScuttles says:

        You, sir, are the best.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        At what funding level does sugar then milk come in?

        I find the whole concept of people spending cash on an idea quite……’Get your Snake Oil’, ‘Its properties depend on how many people we sucker, Snake Oil..Get your Snake Oil’

      • Michael Fogg says:

        Enormous Cup

  4. Super Oxymoron Girl says:

    So, this is a new microtransaction model where you don’t pay-to-win, but pay-to-work? I sure do hope my boss doesn’t learn that he doesn’t have to pay me for my ideas, but that, given certain incentives, I could pay him instead to make him use them.

  5. TsunamiWombat says:

    Two successful kickstarters in a row? I guess you could say they’re doing… double fine.

    YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

  6. Premium User Badge

    golem09 says:

    It’s nice to have no stretch goals for once, since most of them usually just go for bigger content, or extra unneccessary I don’ t even want.

    But still, I’d have liked to see a Tablet version stretchgoal. I like all turnbased stuff on tablet.

    • AngoraFish says:

      Not the first. Castle Story, for example, explicitly refused to offer stretch goals as well. Not to mention the original Double Fine Adventure.

      This should be the default position, not the exception.

  7. Premium User Badge

    amateurviking says:

    Didn’t”t back it but very much looking forward to playing it in due course. Looks spiffy.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Same here. I wasn’t sure how well Doublefine could focus on mechanics.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Okami says:

    Those teeth! Have you seen his teeth? I’m pretty sure he’s a werewolf!

    • Jorum says:

      So it’s not only me then who noticed that. The man quite clearly has goddamn fangs, why has no-one mentioned that? Is it well known thing in the industry or something.

      • Jorum says:

        of course this is where someone points out its symptom of a tragic medical condition and I feel like a complete jerk for mentioning it.

      • Premium User Badge

        Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        He might be sensitive about his teeth. Nobody wanted to make him feel bad about it, but no, you have to blunder in there thoughtlessly and talk about it in public. Do you have no regard for the feelings of others?

        I bet you feel proud of yourself right now.

    • Laketown says:

      I shall not have you defame Brad Muir’s character by insinuating that he is a werewolf! he is super hilarious all the time when he’s on giantbomb’s videos (like when he was on the wheel of fortune&jeopardy quick look for whatever reason), and he is the happiest man alive. Would the happiest man alive be a werewolf? I THINK NOT

      :D!

  9. Hairytoes says:

    I love the idea for this game, backed it, but that name….
    I just keep hearing “massive ph……..”

    • Premium User Badge

      DrScuttles says:

      While not up there with Brosnan’s Goldeneye face or the Resident Evil 6 cover for misconstrued perceptions, that’s pretty unfortunate.
      Or is it? If I were to make a game, I’d hope its… ahem, chalice be heavy and massive. And then I’d probably boast about it.

    • Skabooga says:

      I always thought the name sounded vaguely rude, but I could never pinpoint why until now.

  10. Premium User Badge

    soulblur says:

    Stretch goals make sense iin certain contexts, and don’t in others. Early preproduction is clearly the latter. I think Project: Eternity did a good job with stretch goals – they had a concrete base to work from, the stretch goals added on and deepened that while building community support, involvement and excitement. That sounds great to me.

  11. Keyrock says:

    I’m eagerly awaiting the discussion on animal husbandry.

  12. JackShandy says:

    “The exciting thing about taking the game to you guys at this early stage is that some of your ideas are even better than ours.”

    Jeeze, I hope not. Why am I paying Brad if his ideas aren’t better than Joe Internet’s?

    • Lanfranc says:

      Because he’s the guy doing the work to make them real.

    • SighmanSays says:

      I’ll just bash the horse’s shattered skeleton again and point towards TF2′s hats.

    • lordcooper says:

      Because he can (and has) made good games, and Joe Internet hasn’t.

  13. AlienMind says:

    First of all, I envy these guys. There, you don’t have to give me that. But from my point of view, people who give a huge amount of money to some company without a vague idea for what (no, a scribbling on a whiteboard with the word XCOM is no idea) are also the people who would vote for an insane dictator.

  14. buzzmong says:

    I’m actually jealous. Mr Muir just seems so happy all the time. I wonder what his secret is.